With the collective expertise now assembled on the Chiefs roster between coaches and players alike, the training and evaluation of Tamba20Hali as a 3-4 linebacker shouldn’t be an overwhelming process. For Hali to make the successful transition from defensive end to rush outside linebacker, he will first need to overcome two significant hurdles.
The first of these barriers will be a considerable reduction in weight. At season’s end, Hali tipped the scales at 275lbs., but as a linebacker this won’t work. Shedding the pounds might prove to be a difficult obstacle, however not insurmountable. But regardless of the effort required, it must be accomplished.
“I don’t really need to be 275 pounds. I don’t even need to be 260. Maybe I can be 250 like (Pittsburgh’s) James Harrison or (San Diego’s) Shawne Merriman,” Hali said, referring to top pass-rushing 3-4 linebackers. “I’m more comfortable at that weight anyway. I was 275 only because that’s what (former defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham) wanted.”
The second impediment for Hali, and the most noteworthy element to a successful transit (from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker), could boil down to his ability to adequately develop the necessary skills required to be effective when drop into pass coverage.
“That’s something I’ll have to work on. I’m not going to lie to you, covering receivers has not been my specialty.”
One could argue that Hali’s future as a Kansas City Chief and even his longevity in the NFL, could be greatly impacted by his failure to overcome these hurdles. Certainly without question, there is a great deal at stake for both the Chiefs and Hali.
But what “if” Hali in fact is unable to make the conversion to linebacker?
If conventional wisdom were to be applied to resolve such a dilemma, a return of Tamba Hali to a position of success would seem logical. But lining up as a left defensive end could only be accomplished elsewhere, yes a trade would be the necessary course of action.
The relationship between Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff was instrumental in the trade that saw Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez moved to Atlanta. Oddly enough, the co-op of Pioli/Dimiroff could once again be at work to bring forth a resolution to such a matter. But unlike the Gonzalez trade that sent Atlanta’s 2010 2nd round pick to K.C., the acquisition of LDE Tambi Hali might if fact involve another player rather than a draft selection.
The player in question is Atlanta’s LDE Jamaal Anderson (6-6 282) who has been the Falcons’ starter for the last two seasons. In 31starts, Anderson has only amassed 2 sacks. For any starting 4-3 LDE this level of production would seem to be a serious red flag.
This off-season the Falcons appeared to shore up the position by resigning his backup (Chauncey Davis) to a respectable four-year contract including a $3 million signing bonus and added DE Lawrence Sidbury Jr via the draft in the forth round. Chauncey Davis with only one start to his credit racked up four sacks.
At best, Jamaal Anderson could be look to as a backup in 2009. The one saving grace in Anderson’s favor is his versatility to sink inside to the defensive tackle position. But even this has been somewhat minimized with the Falcons’ first round selection of DT Peria Jerry.
The addition of LDE Jamaal Anderson by the Chiefs to their new 3-4 defensive alignment, would bring much needed depth to the position as well as player that has yet to fully realized his potential with tremendous upside. As for the Falcons, in Tamba Hali they would be receiving a player with proven skills for the position, and a proven commodity that is in search of a home.